After suffering their first loss last week, and suffering is the perfect word for that abysmal offensive performance, to the Eagles the Jets look to bounce back against their division rivals. The Jets defense played pretty well last week but the offense struggled to get anything going, in order to leave London with a 3-1 record the Jets will need to get some quality production out of their offense. The defense will continue to look great but, as last week proved, they can't do it all on their own.
The Dolphins are 1-2 but have not looked good in any of their first three games. They struggled for most of their victory over Washington before losing to the Jaguars and the Bills. This was supposed to be a big year for the Dolphins as they hoped to have a ferocious defense after signing Ndamukong Suh to a six-year $114 million contract and were hoping their decision to extend Ryan Tannehill, to a six-year $96 million extension, would allow the offense to find success. Neither of those decisions have paid off so far.
Not only has Suh not collected a sack through the first three games but the entire Dolphins defense only has one total sack so far. And the sack wasn't made by Cameron Wake or Olivier Vernon but by rookie Jordan Phillips, a second-round pick from Oklahoma. There have been reports of Suh not being happy with his role in Miami and has taken it upon himself to ignore the play call and just freelance and do what he feels is best. Who knows how true those reports are but what is clearly true is the Dolphins front isn't creating the pressure they were hoping/expecting to and if they aren't dominate upfront they will continue to struggle as the talent in the secondary and linebacker group just isn't good enough to make up for an underwhelming pass-rush.
On offense Tannehill has been solid but not $96 million solid and while Rishard Matthews and Jarvis Landry have put up good numbers they haven't been consistent enough to truly scare defenses or make up for struggling rushing attack. Through three games the Dolphins are averaging a measly 72.66 yards per game on the ground and have zero rushing touchdowns. Starting running back Lamar Miller continues to disappoint as he has only rushed for 105 yards on 30 carries this season.
This Dolphins team has been a disappointment so far and when you look at this week's matchup it would seem their disappointment should continue as long as the Jets offense doesn't hand this game to the Dolphins on a silver platter.
WHEN: Sunday morning October 4, 2015 9:30 am EST
WHERE: Wembley Stadium London, England
INJURY REPORT: (Will post when today's report is sent out)
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Stop Suh and the pass rush - Despite the fact that the Dolphins only have one sack through three games this is still one of, if not the biggest key to the game for the Jets. The Jets defense is so good that the Dolphins offense can't scare them and in order for the Jets offense to be able to take care of the next two keys to the game they will need to be able to control Suh and the rest of the Dolphins front. If the Dolphins can create pressure it increases the already high likelihood that Ryan Fitzpatrick will turn the ball over and will prevent the offense from being ability to get into a comfort rhythm running the ball.
With Brian Winters taking place of the injured Willie Colon the Jets are much more vulnerable at the right guard spot and the Dolphins will certainly look to expose that weakness. Suh shouldn't have to do much freelancing because if the Dolphins coaches are just having him rush over Winters on every play they should have to pay for their own flight back to America, or stay in England.
Run the ball - The Jets obviously missed Chris Ivory's presence last week but they likely would've lost the game with him as well. The Eagles are a tough defense to run against, the Dolphins are not. The Dolphins are giving up an average of 145 yards per game on the ground and the combination of Ivory and Bilal Powell should be able to do more than enough to help this offense put points on the board and help Fitzpatrick with the next key.
Turnover battle - If the first two keys are taken care of this third one shouldn't be much of a problem. If the Jets can protect Fitzpatrick and run the ball consistently then they will likely be able to survive one turnover from Fitzpatrick. If they fail at the first two keys then expect more than one turnover from the Harvard graduate (did you know Fitzpatrick went to Harvard? This feels like it's not talked about enough *winky face emoji*) and it will be up to the Jets defense to try and force five turnovers again.
Time - You've heard all about the sleep specialist and the five time-zone difference and there's no way this trip doesn't have an impact on both teams. Athletes are creatures of habit and there is absolutely nothing routine about this week for either team. With the game starting at 9:30 am EST it shouldn't surprise anyone if both teams get off to a sloppy start. The good news is both teams are at an equal disadvantage here and whichever team handles the adjustment the best might be able to win the game based on that alone.
PREDICTION: 17-13 Jets
Sloppy start for both teams but I think the Jets defense holds strong and their running game gets into a rhythm early enough to take an early lead. They won't be able to run away with the game completely as Suh and the Dolphins front will be disruptive enough to frustrate Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins will score a late touchdown to cut the Jets lead down to four but the Jets should be able to hold on to emerge from the first quarter of the season 3-1.